Ever feel like you're weighed down by the demands of early parenthood? That's exactly how I feel. A wonderful life coach said to me, when my oldest was just 1 year old, that I was in the 'labor-intensive' years of parenting. She was exactly right and I'm still in it. My oldest just turned 6 and started 1st grade last week. He's more active than ever and growing stronger by the day. My youngest is 3 and still likes to cuddle and be carried a lot.
Having practiced Pilates for many years, my body feels the need to move in many ways everyday. However, running after my kids does not quite cut it. Yet, it is precisely this physically demanding stage of parenthood that makes my body ache when I skip my daily doses of varied movements in a few days. My body starts to feel stiff and weak - like the chi gets stuck and can't flow through in my movements - and I'm less capable, emotionally and physically, to engage in active play with my kids. To prevent this, over the past two years, I've developed the habit of doing a few stretches in the morning before I start the day. These simple stretches help keep me feel a little more flexible and lighter to tackle what's ahead.
Here are three quick stretches you can do standing, anywhere (I do them in my bathroom as part of my get-ready routine), in less than 5 minutes. You will feel more awake and ready for another day of playground hopping.
Arch and Curl
I always start with this exercise along with deep breathing. The movement works with the breath and provides a nice morning rhythm to wake up the body.
This is a great exercise to get the spine moving on a different plane and engage the core.
Spinal Articulation – Against the Wall
This is a great exercise for stretching your lumbar spine while engaging your arms and the lats for strength work.
Give these a try and add a little side-bend at the end and you're good to go!
Start with 2-3 times a week and work up to everyday. It takes time for these to become automatic, so be patient. After 30 days of consistent practice (at least 5 times a week), your body will crave for these stretches if you skip too many consecutive days.